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Jackson Hole steepness relative to Vail (plus a question about the JH Camps)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

 Currently thinking about doing a trip out to Jackson Hole and wanted to get a sense as to just how more demanding Jackson Hole is relative to Vail.  I have skied Vail for a number of years, and comfortable with most runs there in all conditions. 

 

Are the Black Runs at Vail more like the Blue or Double Blue at Jackson Hole?  In terms of ability, would probably be around a 7-8.

 

Since I haven’t been to Jackson Hole, was thinking about doing either there Steep Intermediate Camp, as I think the Steep & Deep may be just on the edge of my ability.  For a first time out there, want to enjoy the mountain. 

 

If anyone has done one of these camps in the last year or so, would be curious to get your thoughts, as I have read some of the reviews from some prior years.  I guess like a lot of things, it depends on the group and instructor.

 

 Any thoughts and feedback would be appreciated.

post #2 of 26

I did Steep and Deep 5 years ago or so.  There were a wide variety of skiers there.  You can always call them and see what they recommend.

 

On the differences in terrain between Vail and JH, there is no comparison.  JH has some terrain that might be similar to most of the Vail terrain on Apres Vous and a couple of the intermediate groomed runs, but otherwise it is much steeper.  And a lot of the double black terrain has consequences if you fall: trees or rock bands you might slide into, etc.  That being said, skiing at JH is an experience that can really take your skiing to the next level.

 

I'd do it in a minute.  Take real stock of your capability, call the ski school, and find a camp that will work for you.

 

Mike

post #3 of 26

The number of blue runs, black runs, it has nothing to do with the steepness of the mountain. It has to do with the marketing dept. says oh, we can't have a mountain with no blacks, this look steep enough, let's put a black on this one. Example; Northstar, there is nothing on that mountain that is black, yet they have a couple of runs that are labeled black.

 

I find it funny you are comparing Vail to Jackson. Night and day. 

post #4 of 26

There're pockets of steeper terrain at Vail.  Jackson, inbounds, is actually not as steep as Snowbird in terms of sustained steepness (it does have some small pockets of terrain which are truly steep, which generally are actually great learning experiences in a fun, productive sense) but is more exposed and has more blocky terrain and potential for drops.  I 2d or 3d the call and talk to them sentiment.  Part of it also is how laid back versus, uh, less laid-back an experience you want -- I'm thinking the SIC would be great.  This may sound like an odd question, but can you drop into and air out of the pipe at Vail?  If you can, I'd say steep & deep, if not SIC, though lots of steep and deep campers probably can't do that either.

 

Enjoy!

post #5 of 26

Yes, proficiency in pipe is what you need to ski Jackson Hole's Steep and Deep. did I really just read that? It never ends hererolleyes.gif, how absurd. 

post #6 of 26

Jackson's reputation as being a steep mountain doesn't stem from the fact that it actually *is* steeper than most other resorts.  Rather it gets its reputation from the fact that it has over 4,000 feet of a fairly consistent pitch.  Yes, there is plenty of gnarly terrain in-bounds at Jackson Hole, but the vast majority of it doesn't get much steeper than 40ish degrees--which isn't any steeper than the steep parts of Vail or anywhere else.  But the steep parts at Jackson do tend to be long and are often longer than what people who ski elsewhere may be used to.

 

If you can ski the skier's right lines on Prima Cornice, you are unlikely to be intimidated by the majority of Jackson's named double blacks.  If you can ski something like Rasputin's or Red Square or China Bowl from the Ghengis Khan side, you'll be fine on Jackson single blacks.  If you've skied those runs, you've skied the pitch.  Just multiply the steep parts by a factor of at least three and that's what you will be getting at Jackson Hole.

 

The real issue with Jackson is that there aren't a lot of cruisers.  You need to bring your ski legs and you need to know when to quit because once you step out of the Tram, it is a long way down and even the easiest routes will work you.  Throw in variable snow conditions and the fact that there are plenty of places that will commit you to thousands of vertical feet of ungroomed skiing with no bailouts and you can see where Jackson gets its reputation. 

post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

Yes, proficiency in pipe is what you need to ski Jackson Hole's Steep and Deep. did I really just read that? It never ends hererolleyes.gif, how absurd. 



I can see how you wouldn't see the relevance.  I probably would have predicted you wouldn't, my brother.

 

BTW, I forgot to add the appropriate skis and a willingness to ski the fall line also can help a lot, but I assume that the o.p. knows that.

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

Yes, proficiency in pipe is what you need to ski Jackson Hole's Steep and Deep. did I really just read that? It never ends hererolleyes.gif, how absurd. 



Actually, I think that is a pretty good metric.  If you can't do it, it doesn't mean that you can't do S&D, but if you can, it is a clear demonstration that you have sufficient aggression to take the camp.  You do not have to be a good skier to take S&D (and in my experience it didn't do anything to improve my technique); you simply have to be aggressive.  With two exceptions, the entire group of S&D campers the year I went were simply aggressive hacks.  Almost nobody actually knew how to ski, but we were all perfectly comfortable on steep terrain.

post #9 of 26

never been to JH, but I do know that most of the "double blacks" in Colorado are just steep terrain, sometimes in wide open bowls...and sometimes not even that steep.  Whereas double blacks at Alta/Snowbird usually means mandatory drops/chutes or lots of trees/rocks and very steep terrain.  My guess is JH is more similar to Utah in how the runs are labeled.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ske-Bum View Post

The number of blue runs, black runs, it has nothing to do with the steepness of the mountain. It has to do with the marketing dept. says oh, we can't have a mountain with no blacks, this look steep enough, let's put a black on this one. Example; Northstar, there is nothing on that mountain that is black, yet they have a couple of runs that are labeled black.

 

I find it funny you are comparing Vail to Jackson. Night and day. 



For the thirtieth time, trail ratings are given as a comparison to other trails at the same mountain, not to compare trails from one mountain to another.

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by majortato View Post

never been to JH, but I do know that most of the "double blacks" in Colorado are just steep terrain, sometimes in wide open bowls...and sometimes not even that steep.  Whereas double blacks at Alta/Snowbird usually means mandatory drops/chutes or lots of trees/rocks and very steep terrain.  My guess is JH is more similar to Utah in how the runs are labeled.



This is a bit of an overstatement caused by Colorado's designation of some (but not all) double blacks as "extreme terrain."  Vail, Breck, and Arapahoe Basin all have terrain that is very comparable to JH double blacks (and I had already provided Vail examples above).  The only named run I can think of at JH that requires mandatory air is Corbet's.  The rest of the double blacks there (and there actually aren't that many--since most of the really difficult stuff isn't on the map) are double black simply because you don't want to fall in them.  Alta 1 has a short choke that usually requires a short straight line and may be the one run besides Corbet's that presents any special difficulty.  Alta 2s are just really narrow, but you can make turns.  Tower 3 is also narrow.  Paintbrush is cliffy, so you just don't want to drop in blind.  For more detail, see Bob Peter's excellent guide to skiing Jackson's steep terrain: http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/78941/updated-steep-skiing-guide-to-jackson-hole

 

There are plenty of people on this forum who have skied both Vail and Jackson Hole, so there is no need for speculation from people who haven't.

post #12 of 26

If you have to ask..........  just saying.....

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by majortato View Post

never been to JH, but I do know that most of the "double blacks" in Colorado are just steep terrain, sometimes in wide open bowls...and sometimes not even that steep.  Whereas double blacks at Alta/Snowbird usually means mandatory drops/chutes or lots of trees/rocks and very steep terrain. 

 

 

In CO those are usually labelled EX for extreme terrain.

post #14 of 26

I've looked for steep terrain at Vail, and never found it.  I've even looked for it with an instructor, and never found it.  There isn't anything at Vail that I've been shown that has the same pucker factor as looking down Tower 3 chute (let alone in a dry year with gnarly shark fin bumps), down Corbett's in any year, or even Toilet Bowl/Paintbrush, etc.  Even skiing down off of Flip Point would be more than you'd find most anywhere at Vail.  And the top of the groomer down Laramie Bowl has enough pitch to it that it probably rivals the steepest terrain at Vail.

 

Vail is a interesting place to ski when there's lots of new snow.  I wouldn't use experience of hacking your way down the blacks at Vail to provide much guide to whether you'll be able to tackle the blacks and double blacks at JH.  That being said, JH is a great place to ski, and I'd take the opportunity of one of the camps to do so.  And while you may not improve your PSIA technique, you definitely will learn some skills to ski steeps (everyone say counter).  I think you'll enjoy it

 

Mike

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffda View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by majortato View Post

never been to JH, but I do know that most of the "double blacks" in Colorado are just steep terrain, sometimes in wide open bowls...and sometimes not even that steep.  Whereas double blacks at Alta/Snowbird usually means mandatory drops/chutes or lots of trees/rocks and very steep terrain.  My guess is JH is more similar to Utah in how the runs are labeled.



This is a bit of an overstatement caused by Colorado's designation of some (but not all) double blacks as "extreme terrain."  Vail, Breck, and Arapahoe Basin all have terrain that is very comparable to JH double blacks (and I had already provided Vail examples above).  The only named run I can think of at JH that requires mandatory air is Corbet's.  The rest of the double blacks there (and there actually aren't that many--since most of the really difficult stuff isn't on the map) are double black simply because you don't want to fall in them.  Alta 1 has a short choke that usually requires a short straight line and may be the one run besides Corbet's that presents any special difficulty.  Alta 2s are just really narrow, but you can make turns.  Tower 3 is also narrow.  Paintbrush is cliffy, so you just don't want to drop in blind.  For more detail, see Bob Peter's excellent guide to skiing Jackson's steep terrain: http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/78941/updated-steep-skiing-guide-to-jackson-hole

 

There are plenty of people on this forum who have skied both Vail and Jackson Hole, so there is no need for speculation from people who haven't.


Note that I said MOST of colorado's double blacks.  I agree there's still plenty of gnarly terrain to be found, but you gotta look harder and it's harder to get to (labeled as extreme double blacks), whereas at a place like Snowbird, there's sustained steeps around every corner and most are just labeled as black.  The point of the post was to not speculate about JH, it was to give the OP an idea of how Vail compares to some resorts that are usually considered more "extreme".

post #16 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

There are plenty of people on this forum who have skied both Vail and Jackson Hole, so there is no need for speculation from people who haven't.

Well said Geoff.

 

OP; posts that include “Never been to…” and “My guess is…” /Burn.  Certainly JH maintains much more of an aggressive pitch than Vail has at over twice the size.  You’d be better off comparing segments Beaver Creek’s Stone Creek Chutes or A-Basins higher east wall terrain here in CO to that of JH and the ex pitches of LCC resorts.  See CT’s, iWill, Geoff’s and Mike’s suggestions…[and read Bob Peter's guide!]

 

Ski well.    



 

post #17 of 26

Vail front side.

overview800.jpg

 

Back side.

backbowls800.jpg

 

Jackson.

overview800.jpg

 

 

Get the picture?

popcorn.gif

 

post #18 of 26

 

 

Quote:
The only named run I can think of at JH that requires mandatory air is Corbet's.

Though many are only familiar with Corbets, S&S is actually said to be even more difficult, with something like a 30 to 50 ft mandatory air I think.

post #19 of 26

Corbet's doesn't require mandatory air.  S&S is only open with permission of the patrol.  There are sections of places that you can ski inbounds at JH that end in mandatory air, but you'd have to work to get to them.  There are runs in the sidecountry that require mandatory air, such as Spacewalk.

 

Mike

post #20 of 26

karpiel, those images are awesome.  Thanks for introducing me to a new site.  =)

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

Corbet's doesn't require mandatory air.  S&S is only open with permission of the patrol.  There are sections of places that you can ski inbounds at JH that end in mandatory air, but you'd have to work to get to them.  There are runs in the sidecountry that require mandatory air, such as Spacewalk.

 

Mike



You can get into Corbet's without going airborne?

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

Corbet's doesn't require mandatory air.  S&S is only open with permission of the patrol.  There are sections of places that you can ski inbounds at JH that end in mandatory air, but you'd have to work to get to them.  There are runs in the sidecountry that require mandatory air, such as Spacewalk.

 

Mike



You can get into Corbet's without going airborne?



Well it was mandatory the last time  looked at it, but I think what Mike is getting at is that when the cornice is nice and cut down it can be a vertical straight-line.  Technically this is not air, as your skis are in contact with the snow; though it isn't as though you'll be using them to make turns.  That said, Bob Peters tells a story of seeing somebody manage to do just that.  Go figure.  I saw a video once of somebody snowplowing the Chimney in the Palisades at Squaw.  People manage to cheat their way into lots of runs in the interest of bragging that they skied "X"...I wouldn't count on repeating that with Corbet's though.

 

Oh yeah, and some of the entrances to Casper Bowl do require mandatory air as well, but those drops are pretty small.

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ske-Bum View Post

The number of blue runs, black runs, it has nothing to do with the steepness of the mountain. It has to do with the marketing dept. says oh, we can't have a mountain with no blacks, this look steep enough, let's put a black on this one. Example; Northstar, there is nothing on that mountain that is black, yet they have a couple of runs that are labeled black.

 

I find it funny you are comparing Vail to Jackson. Night and day. 



For the thirtieth time, trail ratings are given as a comparison to other trails at the same mountain, not to compare trails from one mountain to another.

So when one run is really flat and the next run is only kinda flat then the kinda flat one is black? Silly system, and I have been told by people who run ski areas that the marketing dept has a say in it. But doesn't really matter, to me. Tell it to the guy who is comparing Vail to Jackson. 

post #24 of 26

Karp, those maps are cool. the warmer the overall color balance, the steeper the area.

post #25 of 26

First, just go.  It's not like you're going to die.  The place is steep but has plenty of options.  My 5 y/o skied with an instructor off the gondola.  Check out Bob Peter's guide to Jackson Hole on this site.

 

Don't obsess with Steep and Deep.  I was there last week and took a "group" lesson one day.  The group was me and an instructor who was actually an examiner of instructors (and excellent).  The other lower lever "group" was two people plus an instructor.  I essentially got an all day de facto private for $134.  We skied every named double black except Corbets and a few that aren't on the map. 

 

Edit: a note on Corbet's.  I've seen it when it's lots of mandatory air.  Last week it was a chute the snowboarders were able to slide down and then I think (couldn't really see) a small drop.  I didn't try it on skis as I don't think they would have fit sideways in the slot like a snowboard and I didn't want to risk a straightline to a flat compression landing.  The other option was at least a 10 footer, probably more.

post #26 of 26

Vail is pretty tame. JH isn't especially steep but there is something to huck off of seemingly every other ski turn. But JH is light years better than Vail for challenge and vibe.

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